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2017 Teacher Of The Year From Polk County

Jul 15, 2016

A third grade math teacher from Polk County is 2017’s Florida Teacher of the Year.

Florida First Lady Ann Scott and Gov. Rick Scott made the announcement Thursday night at the annual awards ceremony in Orlando.

Jessica Solano is an educator at Highlands Grove Elementary School in Lakeland.

She'll receive $20,000 from the state and Macy's -- which sponsored the event.  She also gets to attend their Thanksgiving Parade in New York this November.

Solano will also travel the state next year as an education ambassador.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said she wasn't surprised when Solano's name was announced.

"She has a comfort level in her classroom where children trust her and they're willing to go out on that limb and take that risk and say, 'Hey, this is the answer I chose,' and not be afraid if it is the wrong answer," Byrd said. "She's built that rapport in her classroom to let children know-- it is a safe environment here for learning."

And Solano is the second teacher from Highlands Grove Elementary to receive the state’s top honor.

The school's art teacher, Christie Bassett, won the award in 2015.

The five state finalists, including Donald Blake, who works at Marchman Technical College in Pasco County, received fifteen thousand dollars.